Here are the weirdest things that happened at Edinburgh Uni during the pandemic

You’ve probably blocked them out your mind

It’s been about three years since life was upended for absolutely everyone by the Covid-19 pandemic, which lead to easily the most harrowing and insane period most of us will ever experience: lockdown. We all became more and more desperate to spend time with people we didn’t ‘bubble’ with. People were socialising in increasingly unhinged ways. The celebrity Imagine music video came out.

Some reports claim the mental health effects of months spent almost entirely alone were “minimal”, but it was a stressful and confusing time for most of us. Here are some of the weirder things that happened as an Edinburgh student during the pandemic that you might have forgotten about (or tried to blank out from your mind forever):

Vaccine passports

Waiting an hour in the queue for Subway when you’re freezing cold and absolutely hammered is already hard. When you add to that the stress of scrabbling around on the dodgy NHS app to find your barcode or text, it became an entirely different version of hellish.

Being able to go clubbing, but not to lectures

How was Gari’s open before Gordon Aikmann 🙁

Absolutely one of the biggest injustices of the pandemic was being able to go feral somewhere on Cowgate with hundreds of strangers, only to have to avoid your lecture theatre for fear of getting ill. It was so strange to sit at a desk in your room to tune into a lecture, knowing full well you spent the night surrounded by dozens of sweaty people necking on with each other.

Hive turning into a sit-down bar

An odd one, to say the least, documented in this amazing article if you feel like being nostalgic.

The library police

There was nothing like being interrupted from working in the library by that “The Scottish government has made the wearing of face coverings mandatory in all study spaces” announcement over the tannoy. Plus the library police out in full force to catch out the people who were wearing their masks over their mouths and not noses.

Pollock isolation

We all heard horror stories of the isolation conditions in Pollock and other halls around uni. Stories spread of students going days without food, and when they did, getting food that they were allergic to, didn’t fit their religious requirements, or was mouldy.

Only students being banned from pubs

One of the (former) First Minister’s less popular decisions was to tweet that students should stay away from pubs over the weekend during September 2020 (Freshers’!), which led to many students feeling unfairly targeted.

Having to book seats at the library

You can still see the signs of this weird booking system from the names on all the desks in the library: “Mercury Orange”, “Dresden Pear”, etc. There was a four hour time limit in place and you were supposed to sign in/out of the desk in case someone nearby tested positive. Using this system was easily more confusing than any aspect of my degree.


Getting the worst disease of your life once restrictions ended

Freshers’ flu was a near-death months-long event for most people in September 2021. Many people got the worst illness they’d ever had and didn’t really recover for weeks. I fainted on the Thursday of Freshers’ Week with a nightmarish fever, then trudged to the test center the next day with my equally ill flatmate, who I’d known for five days. Realising she was in my household now, not my family who I’d isolated with, was a harsh bonding experience.

Generally having a completely different uni experience from what you’d expected

Installation at the National Gallery of Scotland

It cannot be denied, it was great going on walks and trying random new hobbies. Eat Out To Help Out was fun. But virtual lectures which meant you only met coursemates months or years late, social isolation, not even being in Edinburgh for a significant portion of Uui: no one wanted any of this. The government lockdown-breaking and reluctance to make allowances for students during the pandemic definitely didn’t help.

Evidently, however, we made it through, albeit with ruined attention spans and a catastrophic fear of in-person exams.

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